South Africa and its neighbours Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia are back on the UK “red list”. It comes as a newly-discovered variant of the Covid-19 virus, Variant B.1.1.529 is declared a Variant under Investigation by the UK Health Security Agency.

A notice appears on the UK government website.

The UK government calls it a “precautionary” measure to ward off “a new variant under investigation”. The notice says no cases have yet been identified in the UK.

UK visitors already in South Africa will also be affected on their return to the UK by the need to quarantine on return.

From midday today, Friday November 26, South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia will be added to the UK’s travel red list.

This means…

  1. Direct flights, both commercial and private, from the six countries into the UK will be banned from midday Friday November 26 until hotel quarantine is up and running at 04h00, Sunday November 28. This excludes cargo and freight without passengers.
  2. From midday on Friday November 26, non-UK and Irish residents who have been in these countries in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into England (and presumably into the rest of the UK – Ed). This does not apply to those who have stayed airside and only transited through any of these countries while changing flights.
  3. Passengers arriving in the UK after 04h00 Sunday, November 28, will be required to book and pay for a government approved hotel quarantine facility for 10 days. Bookings for these hotels will open at midday today, Friday November 26.
  4. UK and Ireland residents arriving in the UK between midday Friday November 26 and 04h00 Sunday November 28 from these six countries, (or who have been in those countries in the 10 days prior to departure to the UK), must isolate at home for 10 days and take NHS PCR tests on day 2 and day 8, even if they already have a lateral flow test booking. But, UK and Irish residents arriving from 04h00 on Sunday November 28 will have to isolate in a government-approved facility for 10 days. During their stay, they will be required to take a coronavirus test on day 2 and day 8.
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We’re taking this early precautionary action now to protect the progress made across the country, and will continue to keep a close eye on the situation as we continue into the European winter.”

A day after announcing that Seychelles would reopen to all South African travellers, the destination has overturned its own decision and is once again prohibiting travellers from South Africa from visiting the islands.

“The advisory was updated yesterday on June 1 and visitors from South Africa are not allowed to enter the Seychelles,” confirmed Seychelles Tourism Board regional director Africa and the Americas, David Germaine, on June 2.

David was unable to relate the reason behind the overturning of the decision, and said only that the situation remained very fluid at present. However, according to a Seychelles insider, the flip flopping is the result of a political battle of wills between two Seychelles government departments.

“Visitors who have been in South Africa, Brazil, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan within the 14 days preceding arrival in Seychelles will unfortunately be restricted entry,” stated the updated advisory.

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Chief commercial officer of Air Seychelles, Charles Johnson¸ expressed his devastation over the latest regulatory about-face. Charles said that while Air Seychelles would now not be able to reinstate the Johannesburg – Seychelles route this month, the airline remained committed to operating its Johannesburg – Maldives route which is expected to commence on June 11.

“These flights will operate between Johannesburg and Malé in the Maldives every Friday, returning to Johannesburg via Seychelles every Saturday. We will also introduce additional frequencies in July and August,” said Charles.

It is thought that this may also be due to the UK's possible review of downgrading the Seychelles from it's Red List.

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